Season 5 | Episode 4

I think we see the face of God in so many different ways. My tradition is only one of them. It's more important that the hungry are fed, that the stranger is visited and welcomed, that the person in prison is visited, that the sick are healed … You have to meet people where they are and bring out their best from a leadership perspective, from a funding perspective. It's all more responsible, casting a wider net and inviting people to share their why." 

Matt talks this week to The Rev. Matt Hackworth, a member of senior leadership for L'Arche USA, an organization committed to helping people with and without intellectual disabilities to live in a community, together.

Matt and Matt come from drastically different backgrounds. Matt Kamin is a Jewish, native Californian. Matt Hackworth is a Christian Reverend from the South. However, the two share a love for spirituality, a strong compulsion for humanitarianism, and a shared compassion for those with intellectual disabilities.

Tune in to this thoughtful conversation which centers largely on the overlap of religion and nonprofit work. (Religious organizations typically receive the largest share of charitable donations [around 30%] each year.) And the mission work of many religious organizations connects congregations with nonprofits globally. They also touch on the importance of hiring people with differences and the gifts and opportunities that are missed when people are overlooked.



Matt Kamin:
So our listener, Adam, asked, “How do you measure the impact and effectiveness of partnerships between nonprofits and religious organizations in terms of support garnered and outcomes

Matt Hackworth:
Fantastic question. So, there's an organization I partner with called the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Communities. Their role is to identify best practices and relief and development
programs and leverage those best practices in faith communities, because faith communities have tremendous reach to influence social change.

They introduce data and benchmarking into a world where data and benchmarking aren't necessarily the norm. There is a conversation therefore to be had between the nonprofit seeking
support and partnership with the faith community and the faith community itself about what success looks like.

And I think that has to be an intentional conversation both between the chief executives representing those organizations as well as the governing body of those organizations about how
they define the success of the partnership. So, if your benchmark is only to raise x many dollars, all of your efforts have to be pointed at that benchmark But there are differing
benchmarks then to be made both for the faith community and the nonprofit served.

So, for the nonprofit served it could be: volunteer hours; it could be a network of reach; it could be number of people on your mailing list; it could be factors of engagement, which have several
different benchmarks that roll up into you demonstrating success. On the faith community side, it could be number of people served; number of volunteers that are interested from the
congregation that go and perform work at that faith-based organization.

Don't be afraid to have that conversation and set some guidelines. And it doesn't mean that you define success or failure in the near term, but what you should be doing is using those agreed-upon benchmarks to steer the course. So, if you need more volunteers, invite somebody to come and speak during worship. If you need more dollars, then fix your sights on a fundraising
campaign and collaborate accordingly and leverage the connections that both entities have towards that common goal.

Matt Kamin:
What challenges have you encountered when trying to engage religious communities in
supporting your nonprofit, and how have you overcome them?

Matt Hackworth:
So, the Christian church has no shortage of abuse legacies in ways that religion and I would zero in on Christianity specifically, has wielded power for less than divine purposes. And that
leaves a lot of people skeptical. And I'd so get that. I so get that. That's something that I face every single Because people hear faith, and it gets what they call the faith cooties, right?

They're like, oh god, you know, they're converting people. They're up on stage, and there's somebody who's gonna hit you in the forehead and go, Heal! And then they're gonna be You know, we all know the images of what this looks like.

But the outcomes are what's important. I mean, mission and impact are critical, absolutely critical.

So, what I reference, like the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Communities, focuses exactly on that. The idea that we can have impact and that spirituality answers the question of why for
us. If you can point to the why, If you can make peace with the why and point to impact, that's when things flow right.

But if you stumble over the why and you don't really know what the impact is that you're seeking, that's when problems occur. And I'll say like, I know it sounds like I've bashed evangelicals. I don't mean to. I have wonderful evangelical friends who I know are so concerned about feeding the hungry and healing the sick and welcoming the stranger. But think about what that means. We have a difference in theology, but the why is the same, and we can point to the impact, the common shared outcome that we are trying to achieve.